The town or city where a post-secondary school is located may be just as important to a high school graduate’s academic career as his or her choice of a college or university, according to WalletHub, a personal finance website.

Most families want their scholar to get a good education at an affordable cost, and the choice of a college town is usually critical to achieving those financial goals, particularly with student living expenses climbing as high as $27,200 for a 12-month period. Stimulating cultural attractions can enrich a student’s post-secondary educational experience, and low rents can make it a less costly one. That’s why students should look for a college or university with the best supporting town or city to get the most bang for their buck, WalletHub says. 

To find the best college town or city, a prospective undergraduate should take a campus visit, which usually includes a tour of the surrounding municipality. But sometimes a campus visit isn’t enough to assess a college town’s potential to nurture a student’s personal and academic growth. 

To help students further narrow their school choices, WalletHub compared 415 U.S. cities of varying sizes across the three key dimensions—wallet friendliness; social environment; and academic and economic opportunities—using 31 relevant metrics of academic, social and economic opportunities for students such as cost of living, quality of higher education and crime rate. 

WalletHub then graded each metric on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the most favorable conditions for college students, and used the weighted scores to rank each college town and city used in its sample.

Here, in ascending order, are WalletHub’s top 10 best college towns and cities.

10. Provo, Utah

Find your passion—from paleontology to printing—at any one of Brigham Young University’s many museums, then hike Y Mountain's scenic trails for panoramic views of the city. Provo ranked 121st in academic and economic opportunities, 112th in social environment and 10th in wallet friendliness. Total Score: 59.75

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